I’ve been sitting on this article for the past couple of days, just trying to figure out what to say, and how to say it best.
So many thoughts raced through my head as soon as I saw Ilie’s cup-winning penalty kick zoom past the outstretched arms of Andre Blake to the home crowd’s jubilation. A wave of extreme disappointment and let down washed over me as I sat on the field of Subaru Park, surrounded by a watch party of die-hard Philadelphia Union supporters who went through the entire gamut of emotions. It wasn’t just the Union failing to get the job done after a massive season; that’s the feeling the Phillies loss that night gave me. It was more than that.
We all felt that immense high when Jack Elliott gave us the 3-2 lead in the 124th. It really felt like a storybook ending to a magical season. Guys who I just met that day became brothers of mine, and we all celebrated as if we had known each other for years. It was special.
And then it came crashing down.
As I sat there in the middle of the field, feelings of sadness and frustration following through my head, a hand reached out to me. One of my new found brothers reached out his hand and said something to the tune of “Hey, hopefully I’ll see you again next year.”
A couple of days later, that is my takeaway from this entire MLS Cup Final experience: I will give anything to be able to experience this again.
I attended the watch party at Subaru Park with a friend from high school. It was his first time back at the stadium since the days of Conor Casey, and while he shared a similar disappointment to me, he could not stop alluding to just how amazing the entire experience was. That is something that should not get lost in translation just because the Union were the unfortunate losers, we all just participated in something special.
From a fan perspective, that was a truly special watch party in Chester. Despite no team actually on the field, we still had the fortress feeling in the stands. It was a party atmosphere, and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I truly hope that we all get to experience this once again next year, maybe with final at home this time.
It may take some time before I go back and watch the match, but this has to be the greatest match in MLS history right? This is one of those games that defines the leagues. Fans can show this to others to try and get them invested in the excitement on the field and in the stands. It is a sign to the snobs overseas, who still view MLS as a bush league. Major League Soccer is legit, and it was a fantastic showing by clearly the two best teams in the league. You feel proud not only to see how far the Union have come since 2021, but how much the league has improved since then.
This loss will sting for a while, there’s nothing we can do about that. We cannot get mad about effort, about being cheated by Covid. An all time classic occurred, and the Union were just unfortunately on the losing side. Such is sports. This was a truly special season, and quite simply a whole lot of fun. If these past few years are anything to go by, we have a lot of enjoyable years ahead of us at Subaru Park.